There aren’t a lot of books that really make me sad, though there are many books with individual moments that cause me to get a little weepy. One book that does make me sad, however, is Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie. I actually only read it for the first time last month, but it made me sad, and it made me angry – we don’t treat our older citizens very well – and it made me miss my grandparents.
The 30-Day Book Meme asks me to write about a book “that makes me happy,” and the first title that popped into my head is Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. I love this book so much – about a woman who is dumped and left mostly penniless by her cheating husband, moves to Seattle, works in a bakery, and eventually rediscovers her best self, her romantic self, and her love of baking and fabulous bread.
Partly, I love this book because it’s a cafe story, and partly it’s because – except for the cheating husband part – she’s living one of my fantasies. I’ve bought and given away multiple copies of this novel. It’s well written, draws you in, and has vivid characters.
If only it came with freshly-baked sourdough, it’d be just about perfect.
The book meme asks us to write about our favorite book from our favorite series. As I said, I don’t really have real favorites, but since I listed the Holmes & Russell series, I’m going to honor that choice and pick A Monstrous Regiment of Women as my favorite book within it.
It’s a book that represents a shift in Mary Russell’s relationship with Sherlock Holmes, which is interesting in and of itself, but it’s also a well-researched look at feminism and theology, how they mesh, and how they don’t, in 1920’s England. I enjoyed that aspect of the novel as much as I enjoyed the mystery at its core.
When you fall in love with a character or world, it’s natural to want more of what you love. I think that’s why so many of us read series of novels. I’m told that whenever you’re trying to sell a novel, if they ask you “Do you have an idea for a sequel?” the answer should always be “yes,” because series make money. Multiple books in general make money, actually, but people buy what they know.
The 30-Day Book Meme wants me to tell you my favorite series. There are so many. The Little House and Anne of Green Gables books, as well as Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys kept me entertained all during my childhood. As I grew older, I fell for such different series as The Cat Who… mysteries, and the Mrs. Pollifax novels, but I also loved Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries, Anne Rice’s vampire and witch series (before she was popular and trendy, and later, overdone), and Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels books.
I love the Star Trek tie-in novels, and I also love the Pink Carnation series. I’ve spent hours on Darkover, Pern, and Valdemar, I’m a sucker for Harry Potter’s adventures, and I’m getting into Game of Thrones after watching the HBO series (my husband loves those books). I sip coffee with Cleo Coyle’s baristas and want to visit her alter-ego’s Haunted Bookshop.
But if I had to pick a favorite? It would have to be Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell novels, first because I’m a Holmes junkie from way back, and second because she writes Mary with a feminist sensibility that I really enjoy. The books are well written, well plotted, and entertaining without being stupid.
They are best read in order, so begin with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and if you’re diligent, and read as fast as I do, by the time the new book comes out on September 6th, you’ll be ready!
I’ve been a fan of Madeleine L’Engle since a friend of my mother’s gave me A Wrinkle in Time to read while I was at her house. It was, quite literally, a dark and stormy night, and I was sprawled on a guest-room bed covered in a patchwork quilt, immersed in a story and unafraid of the storm.
I’ve probably read A Wrinkle in Time at least a dozen times, but the novel I’m actually using for this prompt – a book I’ve read at least three times – is one of L’Engle’s adult novels, Certain Women. I like it because it’s a story within a story – on one level, it’s about an adult daughter spending time with her dying father, but on another level it’s the story of the play that her ex-husband created for father and daughter to perform, about King David and all his wives.
As someone whose religious education has been rather eclectic, I read it, the first time, with very little frame of reference, save for the fact that I read the Catholic version of the Bible cover-to-cover when I was seven. In the years since my first reading, however, my knowledge has expanded, and I’ve gotten more from the book.
I think I got even more from it as I’ve aged, as well…you can read the same book at forty that you did at twenty-five and even fifteen, and always enjoy it, but experience it three different ways, and with this novel, I’ve done that.
The 30-day book meme asked me to talk about the best book I read last year. I don’t really rank my books in “best ever/worst ever” categories. I either didn’t like something, liked it, or loved it enough to read again. One of the books that fit the latter category, was The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey (review here).
This book alternates chapters, speaking with scientists and then surfers about finding the world’s biggest waves, predicting ocean waves and currents, surviving rogue waves, and even seeing waves from space – no really.
It’s a great book to go back to in weeks like this one, when it’s predicted to reach 109 today, and I’m really missing the ocean, but I’d recommend it to anyone who likes the science behind sailing and surfing, and why waves may be getting bigger and more dangerous.
Was it really the best book I read in 2010? Maybe, maybe not. It did, however, inspire me to download a surf report app for my iPhone.